about the author

Jessica Beyer has an MFA in Poetry from New York University and a BA from Emory University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Little Anthology of MFA Students in NYC, The Anemone Sidecar, Lyre Lyre, No, Dear Magazine, The Shine Journal, and Danse Macabre. She lives and teaches in Baltimore.


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Babel (the voices)

Jessica Beyer



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There is, as you know, only one story.
     I tell it to myself to get to sleep.

Before Babel we carried it
     on chains around our necks

but when each wearer cracked it open
     and poured it down someone else’s throat

we pulled the tower down.
     (We didn’t lose the voices, but

I don’t have to tell you that.) It’s a secret
     too good to keep. We salt it

for descendents whose haircuts we can’t imagine.

When we biopsied Homer’s larynx
     we found burned in Greek

letters This is the only story you will get.
     (But still we play with it in the street.)

The shoes change, songs change, but we pass
     the names from mouth to mouth.

They bleed like cherries darkly in our throats.
     We take it up again in different voices:

when we tore open John the Evangelist’s gums
     we found in Aramaic

This story created the universe. This story will destroy it.





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